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Transfer Watch: Cole's wage demands stall new Blues deal

JOE Cole's contract talks with Chelsea have reached an impasse over his wage demands. The England midfield player is out of contract in the summer, raising the prospect of him leaving Stamford Bridge on a free transfer at the end of the season.

Chelsea remain confident that Cole, who joined the club six years ago, will sign a new deal but little progress has been made in the course of negotiations that began 18 months ago.

Cole is understood to be demanding parity with Michael Essien and Nicolas Anelka, who are both paid £120,000 a week. Chelsea's most recent offer is in the region of £100,000, which still represents a large increase on his £80,000-a-week salary. Cole has repeatedly stated his desire to end his career at the club he supported as a boy but, at present, is unwilling to lower his demands.

The 28-year-old's situation has not been helped by his lack of appearances in the past year as a result of a cruciate knee ligament injury, although Carlo Ancelotti revealed last week that he is eager to reach a deal with Cole and indicated that money was the only issue unresolved. "The economic factor is an issue for the club to sort out," the Chelsea boss said.

Decent bets

Sunderland are monitoring the position of Salvador Cabanas, the Paraguay international, but a proposed loan deal for the 29-year-old Club America striker has been delayed because of his complex tax situation.

Amr Zaki, the Egypt forward, has been offered to Stoke City, Sunderland, and Blackburn Rovers. Stefano Okaka's agent has claimed that Fulham have reached an agreement with Roma to loan the forward.

Celtic defender Gary Caldwell has held talks with Wigan Athletic, but it is understood that he intends to join Middlesbrough. Gordon Strachan has agreed a joint fee with his former club for Caldwell and Barry Robson, who had a medical yesterday, with Willo Flood and Chris Killen also joining on loan. Strachan retains an interest in Scott McDonald, of Celtic, and Kris Boyd, of Rangers.

Leeds United are demanding that Newcastle United pay a straight £2m for Jermaine Beckford after turning down a £1.5m offer that would rise by up to £1m if Newcastle are promoted.

Guus Hiddink could return to club football after being given permission by Russia to continue coaching the national team on a part-time basis. The Dutchman, who led Chelsea to FA Cup success last season, is being courted by Juventus, where Ciro Ferrara is under pressure after last weekend's 3-0 defeat by AC Milan.

Dead certs

Birmingham City have signed Eddy Gnahore, the 16-year-old defensive midfield player, from Manchester City on a five-year deal. (© The Times, London)

Irish Independent